So you’re about to downsize and move into a much smaller home. Downsizing is a step that many people take in their latter years, after the children have left the family abode or when moving into a retirement home. And it’s not just the older cohort who a downsizing. With house prices become ever more out-of-reach for younger buyers, and with an increasing number of single-parent households, many Australians are now moving into apartments and smaller homes out of necessity.
There are benefits to smaller home living – who doesn’t love less cleaning and maintenance? However, the task of whittling down a lifetime’s possessions to fit into a reduced living space can be a daunting one, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to start. Here are our top tips to ensure downsizing is more manageable.
Start early and pace yourself
The thought of decluttering a whole house can be completely overwhelming, and it’s worse if you don’t have much time in which to do it. Our number one tip is to start early. Give yourself as much time as possible to declutter before you have to pack to move. By starting early, you can do a little bit of sorting at a time.
Consider doing just 20 minutes of decluttering, or one discreet space, every day. Once you make that little bit of progress, you’ll often find you’re inspired to keep going, and may manage more.
To get yourself going, focus on one room at a time. Or if that even feels like too much, just tackle one space. For example:
- Your bedroom wardrobe
- One kitchen cupboard
- A bookshelf
- Garden tools
As much as possible, pack as you go. If you’re clearing out the linen cupboard or towels, only leave out one spare set of everything and pack away the extras.
Know your new space
It’s important to be realistic about what you can fit into your new home. Take measurements of each room, noting placement of doors and windows, and measuring apertures for white goods. Check this against your current furniture and white goods. If it doesn’t fit the new space, it has to go! Sometimes, you may be better served by getting rid of your old furniture, which was suitable in your larger current home, and obtaining new things that are better suited to a smaller room. Furniture with a dual purpose, such as a coffee table or ottoman with storage, is great.
Consider your new lifestyle
Think about how your life will change moving forward and what that means for your possessions. For example, if you have reached a stage where you’re no longer going to be camping or riding a bike, you no longer need all those related items. If you’re moving into a retirement complex that provides board games or a library, perhaps your own collection of games or books can be whittled down.
Moving into a much smaller space requires a mind-shift around the notion of having to own everything you wish to use. You need to consider discarding those items that only get used occasionally. For example, the fine dining set for dinner parties, snow gear, the books you’ve already read or the toys that come out only when the grand kids visit. All of these things can be borrowed or hired when needed, or you may simply do without them as part of living a pared-down life.
Other items can also be discarded because they are now available digitally, such as instruction manuals and recipe books.
As you work through your belongings, assign each item to one of four categories:
- Throw away
- Retain (and pack away)
- Pass down to friends or family
Follow these tips on where to start decluttering when moving house, to get your sorting underway.
As much as possible, try to throw away, donate or pack as you go, so you don’t end up surrounded by extra boxes and bags.
How to declutter sentimental items
Dealing with your mementos, photos and other precious objects can be the hardest of all, because of the memories these items invoke. Allow time and space to do this without placing too much pressure on yourself. Sometimes it takes a few passes to get through this category of belongings. A few things to keep in mind:
- Don’t feel compelled to keep something because it was a gift. If you don’t love it, let it go.
- Donating items to someone who will enjoy them can make letting go much easier.
- Start passing on heirlooms to family members who will appreciate them.
- Take photos of items that you want to remember but can no longer keep. You might like to put these into a photo book using an online program.
- If you have several of one type of thing, just pick one to keep and remember the others by.
- Bulky photo albums and framed photos can be downsized by removing photos, culling them down and keeping in a box. You can scan images that you don’t wish to completely lose.
- If you’re finding it difficult to let go of much, walk away and re-visit again at another date.
Sell valuable items
You might wish to sell or donate some items of value, such as your furniture or collectibles. There are a couple of ways to do this:
- Garage sale
- Facebook marketplace
- Buy nothing / freecycle group
While you can potentially make a bit of money selling your items, it can be time consuming, particularly if you have to arrange for individual buyers to pick up items. When you have the big job of downsizing, consider whether the effort of selling is worthwhile or whether you’d prefer to get rid of items quickly by donating or offering to buy nothing / freecycle groups (to find these groups, search your suburb in Facebook, and the term ‘buy nothing’ or ‘freecycle’).
Call in professional help
If the job of decluttering, getting rid of goods and packing is too big or time consuming for you, call in the professionals. There are many professional organisers who can help you declutter and other businesses provide packing (and unpacking) services. Some charities will also come to you to pick up items of furniture.
If you’re in Melbourne, we recommend using Delicate Days to assist with decluttering and packing.
Do whatever it takes to make the big job of downsizing to move into your new home easier for yourself!
If you’re moving house in Melbourne, Pinder Tower Movers can take care of your precious belongings across Melbourne, country areas and interstate. As a family run removalist with over 30 years of experience, Pinder pride themselves on going the extra mile to help make this transition as smooth and stress-free as possible for their clients.